‘Beware of dog nappers’ – Spate of thefts prompts warning over organised criminals

Dog owners in Norfolk have been urged to beware of organised criminals who may be looking to snatch their prized pets.

The warning has been issued after police investigated six reported dog thefts in Norfolk in the last couple of months which comes just weeks after the heartbreaking theft of 17 dogs and puppies from boarding kennels in Barton Mills in Suffolk.

Police there admit the spike in dog and puppy thefts during the coronavirus pandemic is a “huge concern” and while the number of crimes in Norfolk is lower, police are still keen for dog owners to do all they can to keep their pets safe.

The message comes just days after a dog walker in Hethersett contacted police to report suspicious activity after she was approached by two people in a car who made comments about her dogs.

Police did not attend the incident, which happened on July 20, but details of the vehicle were taken and noted. The dog walker, who did not want to be named, said a car “pulled up to her” with those inside the vehicle telling her “those are nice dogs”.

She said she looked at them and “just carried on walking” but reported the incident to police as she heard similar incidents from other dog walkers in the area of a black car coming up to people with dogs and even on one occasion taking a photo of a dog.

A sign has gone up in Hethersett urging owners to “beware of dog nappers” and revealing details of the July 20 incident.

Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall said: “We understand that dog thefts are an emotive crime and although in law our pets are classed as property, they are so much more than this: they’re an integral part of our families.

“Reported thefts of dogs in Norfolk are low and we have investigated six thefts since May this year. However, we are aware that number is larger in other counties and the number of crimes is on the increase, which may suggest more organised crime than opportunistic theft. We take the thefts of pets seriously and an officer will always be allocated any of these crimes to investigate the incident. As a force, we have also invested in the micro-chip scanner technology that is located in all our patrol hubs. This equipment allows officers to scan a dog’s microchip to quickly establish its registered owner and helps to recover stolen or lost pets. “Like other types of crime, we ask dog owners to ensure their premises are secure and pets are supervised.”

Anyone who has information relating to the theft of pets or is concerned after witnessing suspicious activity should call police on 101.

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